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02/07/2007 11:18 AM ET
Roundup: No offseason for Tejada
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Miguel Tejada led the Dominican team to the Caribbean World Series in Puerto Rico. (AP)
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Miguel Tejada is not the kind of guy to take the offseason off.

This was the 11th straight year that Tejada played in the Dominican Winter League. This year, playing for Aguilas Cibaenas, he appeared in his 10th Caribbean Series and the Dominican Republic won five straight games, outscoring opponents 37-7, to claim its first championship since 2004.

The Dominican Republic has now won 16 championships and seven of the last 11 with Tejada on the team.

Winter league is a time for Tejada to prepare for the MLB season in a festive atmosphere, give his Caribbean fans an opportunity to see him play and for him to celebrate the game of baseball.

"I don't need anything when I'm here. I don't need the money and I don't need the fame," Tejada told MLB.com. "I'm happy to do my job for my country. I want my people to see me. They supported me when I was a kid and now I show I support them."

That viewpoint is having an effect on some of the younger players from the region.

"He really supports the country and that's the most important part of it all," Dominican Republic outfielder Nelson Cruz said. "It makes you really proud to play with that kind of person. He plays hard all the time. He's amazing."

Tejada says playing for his home country gives him a good feeling inside, and there is nothing more important than that.

"The most important thing is that I feel great," Tejada said. "What I want to do is win, help my team win and do what we can. It makes me proud to be here with this team."

Harang, Reds make commitment: Aaron Harang and the Cincinnati Reds have come to terms on a new contract that should keep him in Cincinnati through at least the 2010 season.

"It's a big day for the Reds and a big day for Aaron," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky told The Cincinnati Enquirer.

"We couldn't be happier making this announcement. ... Hopefully, this sends a nice message to our fans on the commitment from ownership."

The Reds are thrilled to have Harang under contract for the long haul.

"This is really very exciting for us," said CEO Bob Castellini. "There are two reasons why you get excited about keeping a player of Aaron's caliber for such a long period of time. No. 1 is talent and experience. Secondly, it's the make-up. Aaron typifies the type of character and makeup we want on our ballclub. He's a leader by example. And he's a winner. We could not be more pleased as an organization."

Harang and his family are happy, too.

"We're excited," Harang said. "We love the city of Cincinnati. We're looking forward to what we have with the team. Wayne and Bob have been doing a lot of work to solidify this organization and improve."

Gonzalez signing moves Pierre, Furcal, to 1-2: Earlier in the offseason, manager Grady Little suggested that 2006 leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal could hit third this season, after the team signed Juan Pierre as a free agent.

But Little has backed off of that plan and now plans to bat Pierre and Furcal in the top two slots. Little envisions a heart of the order that includes Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez.

"When we signed Luis, it changed my thinking," Little told The Los Angeles Times.

Last season with the Diamondbacks, Gonzalez hit 15 home runs and a career-high 52 doubles.

But while Little knows who the top two hitters in his lineup will be, the exact order is still up in the air.

"I can't see Furcal and Pierre doing anything but batting one-two," Little said. "Which way we go, I can't say right now."

Lindstrom, Owens in closer mix for Marlins: For the seventh consecutive season, the Marlins will have a different closer to anchor their bullpen. But this year, heading into Spring Training, the team has no idea who will fill the important role.

General manager Larry Beinfest thinks the team has one on the 40-man roster and he will not have to trade for a reliever.

"We think we have a closer in camp," Beinfest told MLB.com. "I'm not sure he's been a closer or (that) he knows who he is, but I think in the next six weeks, someone will step up."

Beinfest did acquire two candidates for the closer's job earlier in the offseason when he picked up Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens in a deal with the Mets. Lindstrom has reached 100 mph with his fastball after overcoming a stress fracture in his humerus. Owens is a converted catcher who consistently throws in the mid 90s.

"In rehab, I was able to gauge my speed every time I went out there," Lindstrom said. "On a bad day I was going 96-97; on a good one, I hit 100 now and then. It's really a tribute to what the Mets did for me as far as getting me back in shape and back in good health. I've had a lot better control, too, now that I'm not worrying about hurting my arm on every pitch."

Owens struck out 74 batters in 40 innings at Double-A last season. He had a late season call-up to the Majors and faced the Marlins in one of his three appearances.

"We actually faced him last season at Shea, and he was hard to pick up and had good arm strength," said Beinfest of Owens.

Also in the mix is Ricky Nolasco, who was 11-11 as a starter.

"I'm willing to do whatever they want me to," Nolasco said. "I once pitched three days in a row and it didn't bother me a bit. It's a lot different when you're just pitching an inning at a time rather than going seven or eight innings."

Papelbon takes NYC boos in stride: During the recent New York Baseball Writers dinner, Boston Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon knew he was in New York when the crowd booed him in unison when he was introduced.

"I was shocked," Papelbon told The Boston Globe. "I just sat there. I never got up out of my seat. No lie, the whole convention center was booing me. This was a black-tie event, and I was like ... 'Wow!'"

Papelbon took the booing in stride, though, knowing it was due to the famed Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

"I think it was an acknowledgment about how good he is," said Orioles vice president Jim Duquette, who sat next to Papelbon. "He actually had a smile on his face. He knew what it meant. The funny thing is afterward, all the people who booed him were trying to get his autograph."

The dinner was only one of the many adventures Papelbon had in New York. He was also there with American League Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander, AL MVP Justin Morneau, AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana, World Series MVP David Eckstein, and Jose Reyes for a New Era commercial produced by Spike Lee.

"It was really a lot of fun," Papelbon said. "We were there until about 1 p.m. They closed off the streets and it was amazing to watch it. Spike Lee was all business. For him, time was money, and he got us through it in what was a pretty funny skit. I got to kid around with Spike and we were going back and forth about Boston. I invited him up there, but I don't think he likes Boston too much."

Guardado will help in Spring Training as he rehabs: Cincinnati reliever Eddie Guardado, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September, has signed a new deal with the Reds for 2007 and the team hopes he can recover from the surgery and contribute this year.

"I'm not into the prediction business, but he'll be ready at some point in the year," general manager Wayne Krivsky told The Cincinnati Post. "Hopefully when he comes back, he's healthy."

In 15 games with the team last season, Guardado had eight saves and an ERA of just 1.29. In games in which Guardado pitched, the Reds were 13-2, and the team is hopeful that when he does return, Guardado can be a closer.

"A big part of the role is wanting to be out there and not have any fear, and the ability to bounce back if last night didn't go well," Krivsky said. "Eddie's certainly not afraid."

It's unlikely that Guardado can throw in the spring, but the team has asked him to report to Sarasota to be with the team.

"I'm glad he'll be in camp. I think it's better for his rehab that he's around," Krivsky said. "It's part of the master plan to have him around the guys and help with some of the younger players."

-- Red Line Editorial

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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